Bugeye Sprite A pillar water leaks

The stamping in the sheet metal seems to funnel the water into the front hole, where it can pool in the A pillar…

While preparing Timothy’s teal Bugeye (above) for his road trip, I was briefly caught in a shower. I zipped into our garage and dried the car, and forgot about the deluge until we removed the windscreen the next day to replace the windshield to body seal. Much to my surprise, the depression in the cowl under the windshield pillar was quite wet 24 hours later. The rust commonly found at the bottom of Bugeye A pillars was starting to make more sense.

These seals are extremely important. About 50 percent of the Bugeyes we see have some form of blistering at the union of the A pillar and rocker panel. If the windhshield doesn’t seal properly, water runs into the little cavity shown, which funnels water right into the front windshield post hole. You can see how the captive threads are wet, so it’s easy to imagine water dripping down into the flat A pillar floor and ruining your car.

Here’s the new gasket, rolled under for a tight seal. You’ll also notice the windshield wiper posts are clear of the seal when you roll the edge under, which helps keep water out.

The seals that keep out the water have to be done right. I’ve written before about rolling the cowl gasket under so that it forms a tight seal. When it’s unfurled flat, that cowl seal will wick water underneath the windshield, which will run down to the mounting holes and into the car. This car had cracks in the seal, which made water entry easy.

The pad gaskets also have to be sound. We routinely enlarge the holes on these to get them to fit, so that has to be done carefully or there will be more opportunities for water to find its way into the A pillar. Lastly, make sure to tightly butt the new windshield to body gasket right up against the pad gaskets. If they overlap, water will get in, and if there’s a gap, water will get in there too.

The windshield post base pad seals best on the body when the cowl seal is butted against it. Make sure the cowl seal is not underneath, or water can run in. Be careful not to leave a gap between pad and cowl seal, or water can sit in that space too.

We sell new gaskets and you should check to make sure yours are sound. If yours are cracked, you’re due. Voids in the gasket under your windscreen will let water in even when you are washing the car. Good rubber will help you keep the water out.

To buy new ones click the links:
New windshield to body gasket that fits
New windshield post pad gaskets

Don’t do this either to your Bugeye Sprite

There is only one way to put your fuel sender into a Sprite tank that will have the sender work. But that doesn’t stop people from getting creative. The unit has to be configured with the arm on the sender running parallel to the car and perpendicular to the tank. In the photo above, you can see the sender installed at 45 degrees, which limits the full swing of the float and limits the travel of the fuel gauge needle. The upward dent on the tank in front of the sender allows the float to swing upward for a full fuel indication. It won’t work if the sender isn’t oriented correctly.

In the photo below, you can just make out the fuel 1/3 up the inside of the plastic float. We have published this many times but still see so many of these in the field that it bears repeating… plastic and ethanol do not mix. Plastic floats are attacked by ethanol, fill with fuel and sink. We have seen this happen in a matter of months. Throw away your plastic float before verify this theory. We sell a nice metal one instead, that should last longer than your car! You can get one by clicking here, and you can find it already paired with a new fuel sender by clicking here.

A younger version of myself had plenty of fuel run into his armpit while rolling by creeper under a Bugeye and bench-pressing a full fuel tank up into position. A lift and a helper make it a lot easier these days. But you still only want to do this stuff once, so best to do it right the first time.

Don’t do this to your Bugeye Sprite

It’s really not good craft to run a rubber fuel line under any car. It puts flowing fuel in harm’s way in a less than secure envelope. For example, if you run over an alligator, he will have the last laugh as you both go up in flames.

The factory ran a metal line nested in the a metal channel to protect this fire source. In the picture above, this builder ran a rubber length right across his low Sprite-should anything sharp scrape the bottom of the car with this configuration, a 7 gallon fuel leak might result, and a fire too.

It’s probably been this way a good long time, and as long as the car stays on the road, it would probably be fine, but the proper metal line is cheap insurance. The correct way to run the fuel line is down the passenger side flange, all the way to the front cross member behind the bumper, then across the frame cross member to the carburetors.

Whether you have HS1 or HS2 carbs, you can make a line using this coil which comes with the correct fuel tank fitting and is long enough to run the entire length of the car. This is a good thing to do correctly. We run metal lines, and try to keep the unions up out of the gator zone.

These lines will be added to our product catalog in the near future, but if you’d like them sooner you can call us and place an order.

How to improve top fit on your Bugeye Sprite

The Bugeye Sprite convertible top (or “hood” in the UK) is an odd work of art. It’s a little rag that looks just right on the car. These “hoods” (as they say in the UK) seem completely appropriate for what was a $1,795 car when new.

However, a German top it is not. That is to say, most early Sprite tops fit like crap.

We have fit on no less than 100 British car tops. I love fitting them, because no two are the same, and it’s always exciting. All you people who sold your cars with new tops in the box, well, we’re the people who pull them out of the box and install the fittings and stretch the tops to the cars. It’s a tailoring job that we enjoy. No two cars are the same. No two top frames are the same. No two tops seem the same. Vinyl shrinks with age. Some vinyls stretch more than others. Yup, never dull or boring.
In this post I want to share a little about subtleties of Bugeye tops. First, the initial 5000 or so Frogeyes came with a thin windshield with 9 studs across the front. Thus the early tops were different, more like what you see on a TR3. The later tops have two studs on the windscreen, and a bar that engages inside the frame. This bar on later cars is also often missing BTW, and we sell those too, you can find them by clicking here.

The car pictured here has an early top. The other subtle difference is the early top bow. It was not spring loaded, and a bit shorter. This car has the corect bow, with no vertical movement. I am guessing the designers added the springs in the bow to better tension the top on later cars. But the early bows did not have a provision to add upward tension once the top was erected which makes them particularly hard to fit.

When we installed this new (non everflex!) top shown here and opened the top bow to stretch the vinyl, the top looked quite baggy. With no way to move the bow upward, we chose to modify the cross bar and limit its forward travel. We welded a stop on the bows so the front bar would not deploy fully forward, thus parking at the point of maximum tension, and also best aligning with he pleats in the top (it’s the square tab you see in the short hinged bars). It was a quick fix that makes the top look far better than normal. The welded stop is out of the way such that the bows can still collapse for storage.

I wanted to share this trick to give you one more tool to get your top to fit better. This will work on early and late tops if you have a top bow that gets too flat when you open it fully. By limiting the forward throw, you can make your top bow look like it fits the top!

Of course we would be happy to pick up your car and put a new top on for you (as well as sort anything else that needs help while your car is here). We currently have cars in the building from California, New Hampshire and Alabama. They are all getting makeovers. Let us know if we can come retrieve yours!

We sell a wonderful ever flex top, in multiple colors, for either early or late cars. I strongly recommend this product if you want to fit your own top, it’s more forgiving, fits better, and you will get a better result that is easier to put up when a rain shower looks imminent. Most of the tops you buy online from other sources do not fit well, so beware. Our everflex top works, so click here if you need one!

All about Bugeye Sprite Front bumpers

This photo depicts about the ugliest application of a front Bumper I have ever seen. This particular car wears a later sprite Bumper (which has the wrong shape for the front of a Bugeye) on a custom mount and it just looks wrong in every way. Correct front Mark 1 bumpers can look nice when done properly. In this post, I will share some basics about front bumpers on Bugeyes.

“The Egg”

First, a front bumper was optional on Mark 1 Sprites sold in the UK. However, every Bugeye bound for the US of A was shipped with a front bumper. That said, many (if not most) have been removed by now, for reasons I will get into below. Most importantly, there is no law of which I am aware that requires a front bumper on a classic vehicle. I often get that question… people fear that they will not be able to register their Sprite without a front bumper. That has not been an issue on the more than 225 cars we have sent to new homes and new states. Old cars are generally immune from this sort of safety standard (not that a Bugeye bumper provided much safety anyway).

Click “read more” for additional bumper information and pictures… [Read more…]

Don’t do this with your Bugeye Sprite!

Slave cylinder push rods have it rough. People are constantly modifying them. It seems that some bugeyeguys wish their push rod was longer.

This one pictured above is one for the hall of shame- particularly ugly-but it worked, (barely). This operator added a 1/4″ drive socket to the bore of his slave cylinder to try and extend the throw. We put in a new long model and solved the problem Why are slave pushrod issues so common?

There are multiple reasons. The eyes wear and get elongated. Clutch forks are sometimes bent, which may necessitate a longer or shorter pushrod.

It often comes down to the backplate. If you change from a 948 to 1275 engine, the thickness of the back plate changes. Notice the thin sheet with curved perimeter on a 948 engine (left) and the flat thicker back plate used on a 1275 (right). When you change the backplate, you effectively move the transmission forward (or aft), and these changes can impact clutch actuation.

We sell two different length pushrods,one for each configuration (longer for 1275 backplates). Check em out in our parts catalog, here. Any time you plan to change your slave cylinder, it’s a good idea to have a new pushrod and clevis pin handy, and to make sure your slave cylinder isn’t throwing all the way out at its limit. A longer pushrod can help make sure your slave cylinder doesn’t eject from the bore when you push the clutch, thus spilling all your hydraulic fluid.

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